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TRUST YOUR HEART When Buying Art ORIGIN COLUMNIST | Lisa Russell


Brad Ellis , Rhythmic Rituals, 2009, 48” x 60” Salvador Dali, Place Furstenberg, 1970


Iconic New York art dealer Jeanne Franke once said, “There is no ‘supposed to’ when it comes to art.” She should know. This wise octogenarian has been connecting artists with buyers since 1970. Part of what she has loved most about her job is educating and enabling those virgin art collectors who felt intimidated by a gallery or an artist’s show, drowning in a sea of creation. By giving people the permission to believe in their own opinion, even if it differed from experts’, Franke helped institute a warm and fuzzy genre of art collecting that was based more on the heart than the pocketbook. “However you feel and however you respond to a work of art is your way,” she said. And I totally agree.


How sad that something as beautiful as a work of art, or as fetching as a gallery jam-packed with masterworks, could unsettle an otherwise secure person. Art, unlike math, is not about logic or right answers. Art forges an emotional connection. When you are drawn to something, your response is valid, as valid as anybody else’s, no matter who they might be or how many university degrees they might hold. In art, there is only you, the piece and the conversation you are having. A statue that only one person adores is just as good as one touted by millions. To get into the comfort zone, consider the world of food. Is it better to like apples than oranges? Certainly not.


But how to reach this point of art-oriented self-confidence? Start slowly. Begin with the understanding that there are no silly questions in art. Whatever you are wondering, everyone else has wondered too at some point. Nobody was born with an imprint of perfect art knowledge. Their grasp came as slowly as yours will. And if they’re honest, as I am, they’ll admit they’re still learning. There’s a lot to chew and digest about art.


Here’s the thing: When you enter a gallery, awaken all your senses. Be vulnerable and intuitive. As you have a gut reaction, trust yourself. Just because you are the only person standing before a painting means nothing. Just because you’ve never heard of the artist doesn’t mean she has no value. And just because a piece seems cheap, doesn’t mean it’s


50 | OriginMagazine.com


Art, unlike math, is not about logic or right answers. Art forges an emotional connection.


not as good as another. But don’t be too internal, either. As you wander through, watch others and listen to their comments. Even if you abhor a piece where a crowd has gathered, join the crowd. As you listen to the comments, you will learn a lot about yourself, about art, and about the way the two connect.


Artists do this. An artist I know once told me about the time she sat down on a bench at a juried exposition in San Antonio to have a glass of wine. As she relaxed into her seat, she suddenly realized that she was sitting in front of her own painting, which was part of the show. At first, she stood up, ready to take refuge in another part of the gallery. But then she heard someone who was gazing at her work release a huge sigh. It was that lovelorn sort of sigh, that bit of passion that only romance or a really great piece of art can prompt. Feeling a bit like a voyeur, the artist sat back down and let the sigh seep down into her soul. It felt good. But moments later, two others approached her piece, making critical remarks. Rather than being offended, the artist was riveted. It energized her to evoke responses, even when they were opposing views.


And so I beseech you: Head to the gallery of your choice with your heart open. The search for art is much like the search for love. You’ll know it when you see it.


Lisa Russell is the owner of the Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery in Austin, Texas.


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